Mystical, Magical, & a Wee Bit Witchy: My Novel Research Library
You know how I promised you all more stories in my Circle of Nine series? I’m finally constructing the outlines! I’ve been pulling research books off my shelf and realized I’d compiled a wonderful library of Celtic mythology and witchy guides to help me craft the perfect details to make my stories come alive. And, what better time to do this than in the witchiest month of the year?
So welcome to Part One of Books that Help Me Write My Books.
Halloween is approaching . . . but in my books that holiday is Samhain, pronounced SAH-win or SOW-win. Beginning at sunset on October 31 and ending at sunset on November 1, this is the pagan new year holiday. It is the cross-quarter day between the fall equinox (Mabon) and the winter solstice (Yule) and divides the year roughly into light and dark halves, marking the beginning of winter.
It is felt to be a day suspended in time, where the veil between the living and spirit worlds is particularly thin, making it possible to invite the spirits of deceased family members home. Bonfires also play a big part in this celebration, and I made sure to include that in my stories. All home fires were to be extinguished on this night and relit from the Great Fire Festival bonfire to start the new year.
These are the kinds of details I found in my reference materials, like the first book I ever added to my library, The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. That was soon followed by Celtic Legends: Heroes and Warriors, Myths and Monsters. Both of these books are fun reading if you’re interested in Celtic mythology. I’d add to that, Old Ways, Old Secrets: Pagan Ireland, a beautifully constructed book that takes you all over Ireland with short stories from long ago.
The Witches Almanac has an updated version every year that’s a delightful guide to pagan holidays, sprinkled with interesting articles on symbology, herbology, and astrology. That’s a lot of -ologies! Celtic Women’s Spirituality has the best subtitle EVER—Accessing the Cauldron of Life. I’ve referenced this book a lot as it celebrates the feminine and supports the matriarchal lineage of my multi-generational cast of female characters.
I saved the two most gorgeous books for last! A Compendium of Witches is only available through the website of the artist and author Natasa Ilincic. The beautiful foil-detailed cover only hints at the intricate paintings and sketches inside that accompany the stories of these women from long past to the present. Learn more about the book in this YouTube video from the artist.
Finally, Celts by Nora Chadwick was my special bookstore find. Haslam’s Bookstore (billed as Florida’s Largest New and Used Bookstore in St. Petersburg) has rooms and rooms full of wonderful treasures. This book is undeniably one of the best historic references of Celtic culture, particularly the later Celtic period in Ireland and Britain. It’s beautiful as well as incredibly useful for my storytelling.
I am always curious what books live in other authors’ research libraries. Perhaps you are a murder-mystery author with books on gun shot residue, blood spatter evidence, or post-mortem decomposition. (Ewwww!) Email me a picture of your favorite research titles or even a list of them—and I’ll share them in a future post along with your own book that these references helped you to write.
Happy Researching and Writing, Valerie
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